Gem of the Ocean Star Phylicia Rashad to Direct Wilson Work for Seattle Rep

By Ernio Hernandez
December 6, 2006

Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad will make her directorial debut at Seattle Repertory Theatre with the company's production of August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean.

Previews begin at the Washington state stage April 5, 2007, towards an April 11 opening. The actress who was Tony-nominated for her turn in the work on Broadway now steps behind the scenes. The run is slated to play through May 6.

Set in 1904, the play (which is the first, chronologically, of Wilson's decade plays) begins on the eve of Aunt Esther's 287th birthday. When Citizen Barlow comes to her Pittsburgh's Hill District home seeking asylum, she sets him off on a spiritual journey to find a city in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Rashad earned her Tony for her turn in the Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun which she will reprise for the upcoming ABC television adaptation opposite her cast members Sean Combs, Sanaa Lathan, Bill Nunn and fellow Tony winner Audra McDonald. The actress, known to television audiences as the matriarch on "The Cosby Show," has also appeared onstage in Jelly's Last Jam, Into the Woods, Dreamgirls, The Wiz, Blue, Helen, The Story and Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death.

Seattle Rep currently presents Simon Levy's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (through Dec. 10) and Kathleen Tolan's Memory House (through Dec. 17). Up next will be Edward Albee's The Lady from Dubuque (Jan. 11-Feb. 10, 2007), Tanya Barfield's Blue Door (Feb. 1-March 4, 2007), Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman's Fire on the Mountain (Feb. 22-March 24, 2007) as well as Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner's My Name is Rachel Corrie (March 15-April 22, 2007).

Tickets to the season at Seattle Repertory Theatre, at 155 Mercer Street in Seattle, WA, are on sale by calling (206) 443-2222, toll free at (877) 900-9285 or online at www.seattlerep.org.